THE PERFECT FIT
Downtown airports such as the UK’s London City typically feature shorter runways, stringent noise constraints and tall buildings or other obstacles in the vicinity – making regular flight operations more difficult for aircraft larger than regional airliners. As a result, Airbus has been pioneering “steep approach” capabilities with the A318 member of its best-selling A320 Family.
This 100-seat jetliner is the largest commercial aircraft certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to land at steeper-than-usual gradients, making it ideal for city centre operations and airports in mountainous terrain – opening new route possibilities and offering significant cost savings for airlines, while providing increased convenience for travellers.
In addition to its capability of landing on short runways, the A318’s steep approach procedure enables a 5.5 degree descent angle rather than the standard 3 degrees. In operations from London City, the A318 climbs and reaches cruising altitude more quickly than any other aircraft operating out of the airport, with significantly reduced noise compared to previous-generation jetliners.
In September 2009, Airbus delivered the first of two A318s equipped for "steep approach" capability to British Airways – which has used this capability to pioneer long-haul flights between London City and New York's JFK Airport.